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Sunday, 18 April 2021

The Perils of the 2020 Rally


We all will remember 2020 as the year of the Covid pandemic. When the first realisation hit our markets, lockdowns became a reality, markets fell off the cliff. The economies across the globe have remained weak. Every country has tried, based on its capability, to pump in liquidity and prop up their individual economies. In the last year, the US Fed has nearly doubled its balance sheet to more than $7.7 trillion through around $3.4 trillion in bond purchases. That extraordinary intervention, along with near-zero interest rates, has a single point agenda - to keep money flowing through the US banking system. As per data from IMF, countries have given stimulus between 2.5% to 10% of GDP.

This has resulted in an across the board asset price bubble. Nearly every asset class has been on the rise for the last year. Bitcoin, equity markets, oil, metals - you name it and they are up. The main reason is that there is a lot more money in the hands of people and it is flowing into various asset classes.

The second thing that has happened, at least in India, is a very large migration of mutual fund investors to direct equity. 10.8 million new demat accounts were opened by investors in India post-April 2020. Retail holding in NSE listed stocks is currently around 7%, which is an all-time high. Since July 2020, mutual funds have seen an outflow of 45,000 crs.

I believe that the market condition when a person starts his investing journey has a very large impact on the kind of investor he ends up becoming. For example, most people who started in the 2000-2007 period, ended up becoming growth-oriented buy-on-dips investors (I would put myself in this camp). People who started post-2008 to about 2013-14 were value investors. It is because those factors worked well in the period when they took their first steps.

What I fear is that the influx of a large number of new investors in the markets coinciding with a huge market rally despite weak economic conditions, sends the wrong message to this set of new investors. They may come away with the realisation that markets never go down and central banks can and will always support the market so there is nothing to worry about. And sometime in the future, this is likely to come back to haunt them.

This article first appeared on https://www.cnbctv18.com/views/the-perils-of-the-2020-rally-8953391.htm

Friday, 16 April 2021

Weekend Reading


Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week. If you like this collection, consider forwarding it to someone who you think will appreciate it.


1. Antiscience is rising and needs to be curbed
Antiscience has emerged as a dominant and highly lethal force, and one that threatens global security, as much as do terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Antiscience is the rejection of mainstream scientific views and methods or their replacement with unproven or deliberately misleading theories, often for nefarious and political gains. It targets prominent scientists and attempts to discredit them.

Public refusal of COVID-19 vaccines now extends to India, Brazil, South Africa and many low- and middle-income countries. Thousands of deaths have so far resulted from antiscience, and this may only be the beginning as we are now seeing the impact on vaccine refusal across the U.S., Europe and the low- and middle-income countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Containing antiscience will require work and an interdisciplinary approach. The stakes are high given the high death toll that is already accelerating from the one-two punch of SARS CoV2 and antiscience. Antiscience is now a large and formidable security issue.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-antiscience-movement-is-escalating-going-global-and-killing-thousands/


2. The Rise and Fall of the Missed Call
The missed call emerged in India as a critical means of communication for those who counted every rupee spent on recharge credit. But the practice soon spread, became trendy, and, even as call rates plunged in the 2000s to among the lowest in the world, evolved into a general tool of convenience: a missed call could mean “I miss you,” “Call me back,” or “I’m here.” The fact that the missed call demanded only basic numeric literacy made them accessible to the third of India’s population that was illiterate. In 2008, one study estimated that more than half of Indian phone users were in the habit of calling people with the expectation that they wouldn’t pick up.

The internet revolution has brought about vast benefits for India: digital connectivity defines nearly every aspect of Indian life, a trend that has only accelerated during the pandemic.
https://restofworld.org/2021/the-rise-and-fall-of-missed-calls-in-india/


3. Irrigation has been stopped in Taiwan to make semiconductors (apparently mankind can live without food but not without their cell phones!!)
Chip makers use lots of water to clean their factories and wafers, the thin slices of silicon that form the basis of the chips. And with worldwide semiconductor supplies already strained by surging demand for electronics, the added uncertainty about Taiwan’s water supply is not likely to ease concerns about the tech world’s reliance on the island and on one chip maker in particular: TSMC.

More than 90% of the world’s manufacturing capacity for the most advanced chips is in Taiwan and run by TSMC, which makes chips for Apple, Intel and other big names.

In recent months, the government has flown planes and burned chemicals to seed the clouds above reservoirs. It has built a seawater desalination plant in Hsinchu, home to TSMC’s headquarters, and a pipeline connecting the city with the rainier north. It has ordered industries to cut use. In some places it has reduced water pressure and begun shutting off supplies for two days each week. Some companies, including TSMC, have hauled in truckloads of water from other areas.

But the most sweeping measure has been the halt on irrigation, which affects 183,000 acres of farmland, around a fifth of Taiwan’s irrigated land.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/08/technology/taiwan-drought-tsmc-semiconductors.html


4. We are breathing in microplastics
Take a deep breath. While you might feel clean air passing through your nose, tiny bits of plastic from packaging and soda bottles that we throw away all too often might be hitchhiking to the depth of our own lungs.

A recent study examined the sources of atmospheric microplastics that are increasing at an alarming rate of around 4% per year. The study discovered that India, Europe, Eastern Asia, the Middle East, and the United States are among the hotspots for terrestrial microplastic sources and accumulation.

Moreover, closer to home, these plastic fragments have become so pervasive that they are embedded in our fields, water supply, and even in the air that we breathe. From the human bloodstream to the guts of small insects in Antarctica, they are leaving a trail in every corner available.

While there is a consensus that inhalation of plastic particles can be irritating for internal tissues of organisms, further research needs to be conducted in order to understand whether plastic is more toxic in comparison to other aerosols.
https://weather.com/en-IN/india/environment/news/2021-04-14-india-becomes-hotspot-for-microplastic-pollution-spiralling


5. Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy - one of India's first crorepatis (in the 1820s!)
Opium wasn’t just another trade good for the British Empire. It was the necessary corollary to another commodity: tea. The British were importing tens of millions of pounds of tea from China every year. There seemed to be no end to the demand and everyone involved was making huge profits. There was just one problem. They didn’t have the cold hard cash or rather, cold hard silver to pay for it.

With all of the Empire’s physical currency disappearing into China, the British were running a huge trade deficit. They needed something that the Chinese wanted as much as they wanted tea. Opium was the answer. And it was essential to keeping the Empire’s entire economy afloat.

By the time he was 40, Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy had allegedly made more than ₹2 crore — in the 1820s. He was already one of the richest men in the entire country, but he had his eye on even greater prizes.
https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/jamsetjee-jejeebhoy-the-opium-trader-who-became-baronet-of-bombay/article27033135.ece


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For technofunda investing and positional trading, subscribe to our Hitpicks advisory service on www.intelsense.in
For momentum trend following systematic trading, subscribe to Quantamental at www.quantamental.in 
Our Quant systems are also found at https://intelsense.smallcase.com


Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Launching Quantamental Q10

As promised during the annual review, I am launching the Q10 Quant strategy.

The details are available in the deck 

To summarise:
  • Q10 now offers a lower minimum investment requirement at a lower subscription fee.
  • Q10 invests mostly in large and mid-caps with somewhat lower returns and somewhat lower drawdowns compared to Q30 over a market cycle. It is also likely to be more volatile.
  • As of now Q10 is going to be offered only on the smallcase platform for new subscribers and may be added to Intelsense direct option in future.
  • https://intelsense.smallcase.com/smallcase/INSMO_0004
  • It is available for free for all existing Q30 subscribers who have subscribed directly on intelsense.in.


Quantamental Q10 - Introduction by abhishekbasumallick on Scribd

Monday, 12 April 2021

Using Technofunda Strategy for Investing

Technofunda investing is a combination of technical analysis and fundamental analysis. Practitioners of technofunda investing usually approach it in one of the two ways - i) look for strong fundamental stocks and then look for good technical patterns or ii) look for chart patterns and then study the fundamentals of the stock.

Nearly all fundamental investors are averse to using technical analysis and vice versa. Personally, I treat both forms of analysis as information streams. And the more the merrier. If I can use the fundamental information about a company's business and combine that with what is happening in the demand-supply of the stock, then the results are superior to using either one approach exclusively.

So, why don't more people do that? Firstly, the time frame is different. Fundamentalists usually are looking at a longer time horizon of a year or more whereas technicians typically look at holding for a few days or weeks. Very few technicians have a longer time horizon. Resolving this time horizon mismatch is something that has to be done first.

Secondly, there is a lack of knowledge and trust in the "other" discipline. Fundamentalists view charts as squiggly lines. And technicians view fundamentals as superfluous newsflow. It is at the core of their respective studies. The way I resolve it for myself is by telling myself that fundamentals cause the stock to perform over time and technicals cause the demand and supply conditions for the stock price movement. Both of these factors need to align for a long sustained rally in a stock. 

I add a layer on top of technofunda which helps with holding performing stocks for longer periods. This approach is known as trend following. Trend following is usually associated with following the price. Although I use that to an extent, I tend to focus more on the fundamental trend following. This is a simple concept of continuing to hold stocks where the results are continuously good and are in an uptrend. Some of the biggest winners in the stock market come from these stocks. In fact, nearly all of the long term well-performing stocks fall in this category. I call them compounders. Because they tend to compound capital superbly well. If you make a basket of stocks filled with such stocks, the only active decision to make is when to sell. You do that when the fundamental or technical trend breaks down.

This has been one of the best ways I have found to get good returns while being invested in good quality companies.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Quantamental Q30 Hits a Century

Q30 Quant Model Portfolio crossed a major milestone earlier this week. It crossed 100% returns on the starting capital as at 1st March 20. The total absolute returns as on date is now 105% since inception on 1st March 20. Please note

  • These are model portfolio returns on starting capital of 100 as on 1st March 20, with no capital added thereafter.
  • For standard comparison with other portfolios, it does not include brokerage, slippages or dividends received from stocks or liquid bees.
  • The returns in your portfolio is a function of when you started, when you added or withdrew capital, whether you have been exactly cloning the model portfolio and a minor impact on account of brokerages/slippages which is also partly offset by dividends. 
  • The drawdowns throughput this entire period has been under 8%. Which is simply incredible and a reflection of the year it has been. As we move forward, across market cycles we would obviously see much higher drawdowns. The trick is to stick with the process across market cycles and not try and outsmart it. Anyway we can always take such calls in discretionary investing. When it comes to quant, follow the system. The system is the edge!

For further details and subscribing to Q30, visit https://www.intelsense.in or http://intelsense.smallcase.com









Thursday, 8 April 2021

Weekend Reading


Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week. If you like this collection, consider forwarding it to someone who you think will appreciate it.

A fascinating account of the first Big Bull of India
Premchand Roychand was one of the most influential businessmen in 19th-century Bombay. A man who made a fortune in the stockbroking business and came to be known as the Cotton King, the Bullion King or just the Big Bull. He was also the founder of the Native Share and Stock Brokers Association, an institution that is now known as the BSE. 
Premchand began his “successful career as a broker under the shade of a stately, spreading banyan tree at the western end of the beautiful Horniman Circle garden in South Bombay where wayfarers, cotton and opium brokers, clerks and strangers came to quench their thirst". Around 22 such brokers began trading under the banyan tree and formed the Native Share and Stock Brokers Association, each contributing Re1.
“Of all the ‘Share Kings’, the most fabled figure was Premchand… whose exploits would help create another stereotype: he would be the first of many famous Bombayites who believed that profit held primacy over principle. The ingenious merchant was a promoter and shareholder in the Commercial Bank and Mercantile Bank, and associated with about seventy mushroom companies. He also took control of the Bank of Bombay. He had a sharp eye for the loophole and regulatory grey area."

Great thinkers aren't afraid to be wrong
High-ability individuals tend to underrate their relative competence, and at the same time assume that tasks that are easy for them are just as easy for other people. The smarter you are, the less you think you know -- because you realize just how much there is to actually know.
Because wisdom isn't found in certainty. Wisdom is knowing that while you might know a lot, there's also a lot you don't know.
Wisdom is trying to find out what is right rather than trying to be right.
Wisdom is realizing when you're wrong, and backing down graciously.
Great thinkers aren't afraid to be wrong. Great thinkers aren't afraid to admit they don't have all the answers. Great thinkers aren't afraid to say "I think" instead of "I know."

Doctors move to a subscription model
Helping someone become healthier doesn’t always require a billable treatment. Sometimes, it just requires expert planning and recommendations.
That’s why doctors increasingly want to practice a different kind of care, known as value-based care. The idea of value-based care is that patients or payers pay doctors to make patients healthy rather than treating them for individual ailments. This often means charging a monthly or annual flat fee in exchange for comprehensive care. Essentially, doctors use those dollars to care for a patient however they see fit. In some models of VBC, doctors can suffer penalties when patients don’t get better. 

Will the future car come from an auto or an electronics manufacturer?
The stakes in manufacturing vehicles are higher than what technology companies are accustomed to. “The automobile is very different from a lot of electronics gear,” said MacDuffie.  “It’s a heavy, fast-moving object that operates in public space and is dangerous. It can kill people. It can injure people. It can damage property.”
In that setting, the automotive industry clearly faces complexities and responsibilities with which technology companies are not familiar. 
“We’ve heard Elon Musk talking many times about ‘manufacturing hell’ and saying there’s nothing harder than mass-producing at scale.” In a recent interview with auto manufacturing expert Sandy Munro, Musk said: “Prototypes are easy and fun, and then reaching volume production with a reliable product at an affordable price is excruciatingly difficult. Our production is hell.”
Even as some tech companies have ambitions of becoming automakers, not all of them are prepared to put in “all the hard work” that Tesla has invested in that endeavor, MacDuffie said. If the tech firms don’t take similar steps, they will be forced to work with existing automakers that bring that expertise.

Things to remember in a crazy market
FOMO brings about a lot of emotions — greed, envy, regret — that make it difficult to make level-headed decisions with your money.
You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have these feelings right now.
Investing in risk assets means occasionally seeing your gains evaporate before your eyes. I don’t know why and I don’t know when but at some point a large portion of my portfolio will fall in value. That’s how this works. 
The current cycle won’t last forever just like the last one or the next one.
Being contrarian will always make you feel like you’re smarter than everyone else, but the crowd is right more often than it’s wrong when it comes to the markets.
No one is able to consistently get in at the bottoms and out at the tops. Hindsight makes it look easy but it never is in the moment. 


For building a solid long term portfolio, look at subscribing to www.intelsense.in long term advisory.
For technofunda investing and positional trading, subscribe to our Hitpicks advisory service on www.intelsense.in
For momentum trend following systematic trading, subscribe to Quantamental at www.quantamental.in 

Tuesday, 6 April 2021